Musings on Bicycling and Buddhism

Thursday, November 17, 2011

"Put Down the Ducky"

Somehow Sesame Street is just as relevant in my "old" age....

The message is simple, put down the ducky if you want to play the saxophone (and in case you're asking that does not mean I am thinking of taking up the saxophone).  The ducky is Ernie's comfort zone.  Did you ever have a favorite blanket ("blankie") growing up?  Nothing better than a portable comfort zone that was always near at hand, or even could be worn as a cape!  Ernie wants to play the saxophone very much. But he can't.  Why?  Because he's got the ducky.  The saxophone could be equivalent to anything we could want to do, that's right before our eyes - but just out of reach.  

Ernie exerts a lot of effort on behalf of that duck.  And the duck, quite frankly, doesn't do much.  He quacks and all, and that's all good and well suited for the tub but by taking up Ernie's time, effort, and rather ineffective Muppet hands, the duck leaves little room in Ernie's life for much else.  No time to take up Ernie's dreams.  It's not until Ernie gathers up the courage to put down the duck that he can even begin to embark on his goal.

What's your duck?  What's your comfort zone?  We can spend so much time and effort trying to keep our comfort zone intact that there's no room for anything else.  Not much time, not much space, not much of us left.  Did you outgrow your comfort zone?  Are you still carrying it around (like a certain duck)?  The duck might not weigh that much, you might not notice - not until your dream is there, staring you in the face, and you finally realize you cannot reach out and grab it because there's a duck in your hands (i.e., you've given it all, to and for the comfort zone and there's nothing left for the dream).

Chances are the duck had a greater purpose at some point, or has a place and time that suit it well, like the tub.  But to exert the effort to take that duck everywhere is effort wasted.  But down the ducky.  Pick up the saxophone, it'll still be there when you're done.

Nichiren wrote in a letter entitled, "The Three Obstacles and the Four Devils",

"There is definitely something extraordinary in the ebb and flow of the tide, the rising and setting of the moon, and the way in which summer, autumn, winter, and spring give way to each other. Something uncommon also occurs when an ordinary person attains Buddhahood. At such a time, the three obstacles and four devils will invariably appear, and the wise will rejoice while the foolish will retreat."

Putting down the duck takes a lot of courage and effort, but when you do it everything opens up- like the daily occurrences that resound with such wonder and beauty mentioned in the passage.  That act of defying the status quo, of reaching for the saxophone- being brave enough to lay aside the duck, walking the fearless way forward no matter obstacles and challenges (known figuratively as the 3 obstacles and the 4 devils) one may encounter, that's one way of describing Buddhahood.  

Put down the duck, grab that saxophone.  Or as I'd like to say, pedal the road less traveled by (hat tip Mr. Frost, of course!).

We're closing in on 6 thousand miles, pedaling the dream?

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Tour de What You Will by Jessie Calkins is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported License